Exotic pets, bird sales still an issue

National 2 minutes, 57 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

BIRDS continued to be sold openly for as high as hundreds of dollars at the Jerudong beach but their domestication as pets remains a controversial issue.

All animals imported to the Sultanate must be approved by the Ministry of Primary Industry and Resources (MIPR), a spokesperson from the Wildlife Division under the ministry said yesterday, when contacted by the paper.

Local animals not part of the list of 34 protected spices by the country’s Wildlife Act, last revised in 1984, fall into a grey area and are only protected if they can proved to be poached from protected forests.

Hence, ownership and sale remains a “delicate situation” according to a member of BruWild, a newly registered non-governmental organisation whose goal is to work towards preservation and conservation.

The BruWild member who wished to remain anonymous, said that a strategic approach in educating sellers and buyers is the best way forward, as the group’s previous attempts to directly inform sellers about the safety of birds has fallen on deaf ears.

“To begin with the sellers don’t actually tell how they obtained the animals, whether they’ve caught it or imported it.

''Changing the sellers and society’s perceptions on conservation is not a straight forward issue.”

Parakeets, pigeons, ducks and rabbits were amongst the animals sold yesterday in Jerudong as observed by The Brunei Times, with an exotic pair of pigeons whom the seller claimed were imported fetching $350 each.

Two separate stalls were selling birds at the location yesterday, with both sellers claiming their birds were from local and imported sources, but declined to mention where the foreign birds were imported from.

“For generations humanS have had pets and so many have asked why is it suddenly an issue? It’s a delicate situation,” she said.

It was her opinion that “wild” animals such as the slow loris and pangolin, considered as exotic by many should not be kept as pets as they carry the risk of spreading diseases.

Meanwhile members of the public had mixed thoughts on the sale of exotic animals and keeping them as pets.

Maswati Suhaimi said that even if the animals were “not traditionally” kept as pets, as long as they were not endangered then there would be no ethical issue.

“Some of the birds being sold are very beautiful, if they are not endangered, or harmful to the owner then I don’t see how it would be a problem.”

She said that the government should constantly keep the list of endangered species updated so that “pet owners can be happy and the survival of all species can be maintained.”

However Muaz Hj Hussain argued that taking wild animals out of their habitats to keep them as pets would be detrimental to the animal’s well-being.

“Many people use the argument of keeping these pets as cultural practice. But these animals are kept in traditional houses in the ulu or interior kampongs which are very close to the forests and the original habitat of the wild animals”

Meanwhile 29-year-old Lim Chiew Seng said that some of the animals being sold may not even be kept as pets.

“I think there is definitely a possibility of people buying these exotic animals and using them for traditional medicinal purposes, or for their skin instead of keeping them as pets.”

In 2012, MIPR said that they would be updating the Wildlife Protection Act.

Later that year the Ministry set up the Wildlife Division to fully manage the conservation of wildlife and the country’s eco-system.

The Brunei Times